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Combinatorial Biosynthesis of Tetrahydrocannabinol


Combinatorial Biosynthesis of Tetrahydrocannabinol
The LEGO-Principle to construct an artifical biosynthetic pathway for THCA
Muntendam, R, Czepnik, M, Schütz, V, Arndt, T, Quentmeier, A, and Kayser, O

Technical University of Dortmund:

Combinatorial Biosynthesis of Tetrahydrocannabinol (PDF):

Key Words: Cannabis sativa, THC, CBGA, prenyl transferases, cannabinoids, metabolic engineering, biocatalysis, cytochrome

Science: Production of THC by genetically modified bacteria

Scientists of the Technical University of Dortmund, Germany, have genetically manipulated bacteria in a manner that allows them to produce the main psychoactive compound of cannabis. This procedure for the production of THC (dronabinol) is thought to be less laborious and therefore cheaper in comparison to the currently used procedure in Germany, said Oliver Kayser of the university on 17 August.

To date, dronabinol has been produced from fibre hemp in Germany. Cannabidiol (CBD) is extracted from this hemp and converted into THC. Chemical extraction from THC-rich drug hemp is not allowed in Germany. The synthetic manufacture of dronabinol would also be costly in comparison to the new procedure. Kayser is anticipating production costs with the new procedure of only about 2,500 EURos per kilogram of THC. E. coli bacteria with isolated genes are responsible for the production of THC in the plant are used.

Together with a pharmaceutical company, the University of Dortmund is planning the foundation of a company for THC production.

Source: Standard of 17 August 2010
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International Association for Cannabis as Medicine:

Bacteria can produce cannabis substance THC

Biochemists at the Technical University of Dortmund have succeeded for the first time in producing THC in bacteria. Tetrahydrocannabinol, a pain-relieving substance, is normally found in cannabis plants and is increasingly used in the treatment of chronic diseases. The Federal Government recently announced that it is planning to ease restrictions on the use of THC in medicines. Oliver Kayser and his team at the Technical University of Dortmund have identified genes in the plants that are responsible for THC formation. These have been transplanted into E.coli bacteria. The end result: highly isolated pure THC. The new process is apparently much cheaper than current production techniques. Medical THC is currently produced in Germany using actual hemp plants. Because hemp fibres contain less than 0.2 percent THC in total, the production process is elaborate and expensive. For legal reasons the active ingredient cannot be extracted from cannabis plants that can contain up to 25 percent THC. Annual production volumes are currently about 20 kilograms; actual medical needs, however, are about a tonne, estimate the researchers in Dortmund. âWe want to go a bit further in our work in the future, and insert THC-producing human enzymes as genes in the microorganisms. It is also hoped that this genetic extension of the potential of bacterial metabolisation will produce metabolic products that can be used as reference materials in forensic analysis to detect illegal drug consumption. - English - News:,did=120554.html

National Center for Biotechnology Information:

Minnesota researchers identify genes producing THC:

How hemp got high: Canadian scientists map the cannabis genome

The draft genome and transcriptome of Cannabis sativa:

Background: Cannabis sativa has been cultivated throughout human history as a source of fiber, oil and food, and for its medicinal and intoxicating properties. Selective breeding has produced cannabis plants for specific uses, including high-potency marijuana strains and hemp cultivars for fiber and seed production. The molecular biology underlying cannabinoid biosynthesis and other traits of interest is largely unexplored.

Conclusions: The Cannabis sativa genome enables the analysis of a multifunctional plant that occupies a unique role in human culture. Its availability will further the development of therapeutic marijuana strains with tailored cannabinoid profiles and provide a basis for the breeding of hemp with improved agronomic characteristics.

Language English
Collection opensource


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